Biometric Identification: Are We Ethically Ready?

Renaud, K., Hoskins, A. and von Solms, R. (2015) Biometric Identification: Are We Ethically Ready? In: Information Security for South Africa (ISSA 2015), Johannesburg, South Africa, 12-14 Aug 2015, pp. 1-8. ISBN 9781479977543 (doi: 10.1109/ISSA.2015.7335051)

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“Give us your fingerprint, your Iris print, your photograph. Trust us; we want to make your life easier!” This is the implicit message behind many corporations' move towards avid collection and use of biometrics, and they expect us to accept their assurances at face value. Despite their attempts to sell this as a wholly philanthropic move, the reality is that it is often done primarily to ease their own processes or to increase profit. They offer no guarantees, allow no examination of their processes, and treat detractors with derision or sanction. The current biometric drive runs counter to emergent wisdom about the futility of a reductionist approach to humanity. Ameisen et al. (2007) point out that the field of integrative biology is moving towards a more holistic approach, while biometrics appear to be moving in the opposite direction, reducing humans to sets of data with cartographic locators: a naïve over-simplification of the uniqueness that characterizes humanity. They argue that biometrics treat the body as an object to be measured, but in fact the body is a subject, the instantiation of the individual's self, subject to vulnerability and mortality. Treating it merely as a measured and recorded object denies the body's essential right to dignity. Here we explore various concerning aspects of the global move towards widespread biometric use.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hoskins, Professor Andrew and Renaud, Professor Karen
Authors: Renaud, K., Hoskins, A., and von Solms, R.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
College of Social Sciences
Published Online:23 November 2015
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 IEEE
First Published:First published in 2015 Information Security for South Africa (ISSA): 1-9
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher
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